How to lead with empathy: 7 tips from Bumble's Chief Operating OfficerFeatured

I spoke with Sarah Jones Simmer, Chief Operating Officer at Bumble. Sarah was formerly Chief of Staff at Bumble, VP and Head of Business Development and Partnerships at PHLUR, and director at Global Philanthropy Group. Sarah shared her advice for collaboration, leadership, and organization.Create an environment where people feel safe enough to spar. Conflict is healthy, and to create progress, we must get out of the mindset that unity is the ultimate priority. Through providing constructive feedback on ideas, we can collectively get to the best solution.. To this end, focus on developing a culture where people feel safe and secure in speaking their mind, rather than simply agreeing with predominant narrative. Iโ€™d rather know what you really think, not just what you think I want to hear.Listen first, speak second. RAs a leader or more seasoned employee, you may instinctively want to share your thoughts at the first opportunity. But listening is often more important than speaking and through effective listening, you can provide more valuable input and empower more people in the team to share their perspectives for greater cognitive diversity in each discussion. One tactic I intentionally employ, especially during a brainstorm, is to not speak during the first half meeting, in order to ensure other perspectives are shared first.Leverage your voice to call attention to different opinions. As a leader, use your position to shed a light on softer voices and dissenting opinions. Notice who has not yet shared their perspective and empower them to do so. Motivate people who are different from yourself. Your success as a leader relies on your ability to empower diverse teams toward common goals. It is not your teamโ€™s job to figure out and cater to your leadership style but rather it is your job as the leader to effectively motivate each person. Understand what makes each person tick and how they work and tailor your style to meet their needs. Write everything down. Sarah uses the notes app on her phone and computer to sync across her devices. Whenever she has a thought around a to do item, no matter how small, she writes it down and builds up her agenda continuously. Then, she never misses an action item, and crafting agendas becomes very natural. Try not to overanalyze anything. Nothing goes according to plan, but everything will be okay in the end. Things that seem major and like the end of the world one minute or one day will fade away and be resolved with time and perspective. Turn obstacles into opportunities. There is still so much that needs to be done in the fight for gender equality. The stagnancy of change can often feel discouraging but by seeing every barrier as an opportunity to create change, we can turn these frustrations into optimism. Be inspired by each otherโ€™s resiliency and set an example for other women, allies, and even naysayers to show it can be done and massive, amazing businesses can be created by focusing on women.
emilytsitrian's profile thumbnail
YES writing everything down is a game changer. On this topic I'm a little old school - I carry a tiny moleskin notebook and a fancy pen to write down things. Just the act of doing this helps me remember and internalize what I'm putting on paper.
IvyCavendish's profile thumbnail
I'm the exact same except with post-it notes. They go from floor to ceiling in my office!
jessicali's profile thumbnail
Love this!
jessicali's profile thumbnail
Totally agree! Thank you for the read and the note :)
HannahBaldovino's profile thumbnail
Great info, thanks for sharing! Empathy is such an underrated skill. I love the idea of creating an environment safe to spar because "conflict" has such a negative connotation for many. I love conflict! That means you care and you're working towards something. Thanks, Jessica!
jessicali's profile thumbnail
Exactly - that is a great way to put it :) Thanks for the note and read!
shirlihs's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for sharing. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™‚
iynna's profile thumbnail
"Listen first, speak second. As a leader or more seasoned employee, you may instinctively want to share your thoughts at the first opportunity. But listening is often more important than speaking and through effective listening, you can provide more valuable input and empower more people in the team to share their perspectives for greater cognitive diversity in each discussion. " THIS - Say it louder :D
jessicali's profile thumbnail
Such a great line and such great advice from Sarah!
iynna's profile thumbnail
I absolutely agree - personally I can sometimes be guilty of this but definitely something I have had to think. Very important to give everyone the space and something else I learned (not directly related to this line but inspired by it) --> Embrace the "awkward" silence - if there is a silence just count to 10 in your head - it feels long but the more you try to break the more you undermine any statement you just made before.
jessicali's profile thumbnail
Love the advice on counting to 10 - I think it is a great practice to implement to achieve this!